Archive for May, 2010

Angela Merkel bullies bankers, launches media fad word

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment
Angela Merkel

Merkel: The Existential Chancellor

Well, it won’t be the first time in history that someone’s said this, but really, it’s all the German Chancellor’s fault.

On May 19, as the Greek euro crashed and burned, the Times reported Chancellor Angela Merkel “after introducing the short-selling ban and a new tax on banks … said: ‘This challenge is existential and we have to rise to it. The euro is in danger’.”

Existential? Existential?? Read more…

The internet, towels and trawlers

May 27, 2010 1 comment

For reasons that have more to do with absurdity and randomness and less to do with logic or, indeed, the number 42, May 25 was Towel Day, the annual celebration of the life and works of Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

Don't Panic!Besides the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently novels, Adams was a frequent writer on matters technological (well, as frequent as his innate deadline-dodging would allow, anyway). He was a tireless evangelist for the Apple Mac in those dark days when the company was considered a dying, if not already dead, duck and sales of its products as well as its share price seemed permanently mired in the swampy foothills of the overmighty and all-conquering (it seemed then) Everest that was Microsoft. But Adams lived long enough to see the second coming of Steve Jobs to Apple in 1996 and the launch of the company’s fortunes with the iMac two years later.

It’s appropriate that, according to the official Towel Day website, most of the celebrations that didn’t include the carrying of, the wearing of or other, ostentatious use of a towel were mainly involved with blogging, twittering and other webby activities, not all of which involved Stephen bloody Fry. Read more…

Categories: Internet, The press

It’s all Latin to me

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
Daily Mail webpage

"Amo, alas, amat", as Aristotle was always saying

Everyone loves a story about powers-on-high making some simple but embarrassing bureaucratic cock-up with spelling: getting a place name wrong, painting a road marking SOTP, that sort of thing. Inevitably, such stories begin: “Red-faced officials apologised…”

The pleasure is doubled if the power-on-high is a university (especially an Oxbridge one) and the cock-up is something arcane such as the declension of a noun in a dead language such as Greek or Latin because, you know, they’re suppose to know about such things.

The trouble with such stories is that they so easily turn into a “pot-kettle-black” scenario if the paper, broadcaster or website concerned is equally sloppy in its attention to detail.

Especially if a sub or web editor doesn’t know the difference between Latin and Greek…

Word of advice: if ever you write or edit such a story, check, check and check again, then check once more for good measure. And do not rely on spellcheck.

Schoolboy error

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment
From today’s TelegraphTeacher escapes prison over dumbbell attack

The old knotted sheet over the wall trick, then?

No, no, NO! Teacher evades prison, or Teacher spared prison: he did not escape.

When will subs ever learn the difference?

Forgotten flipsides

May 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Gypsy Camp Crackdown

You hum it, I'll play it

A pal texts: “Sunday Express splash: GYPSY CAMP CRACKDOWN. Sounds like a Quo/Thin Lizzy B-side, with lots of fiddles and reels.”
Either that, or the true story behind the break-up of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Reverse ferret in Mexican drugs cartel link

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

I guess it must have been a slow news week at the Observer. After several pages raking through the cooling ashes of the election result and the coalition, and blowing mightily on whatever glowing ember of the impending Labour leadership “battle” it could find, Obs-editor John Mulholland found he still had 10 or so pages to fill before Donald Trelford’s non-apologia for the Tiny Rowland-Mohamed Fayed-Harrods affair. Time to reach for the “holdable” file and see what’s stashed in there.

Here’s a good one: an in-depth report on how Mexican drug traffickers have taken over Liverpool Docks and are using it as the base of their evil trade: Read more…

Are you sensitised to this jargon?

May 10, 2010 Leave a comment

A downpage nib from today’s Guardian:

Premature babies ‘more sensitised to pain’

Premature babies are sensitised to pain by intensive care treatments they receive after birth, a new study suggests.

First up, “sensitise” is a jargon, scientific word. It means “to make someone or something respond to certain stimuli”. So what the Guardian is telling us is that premature babies respond to pain because of intensive care. Read more…

May 9, 2010 Leave a comment

The first of my quick guides for journalists and other writers, on Captions, is now uploaded. You’ll find it in the Quick Guides menu above. Looking to illustrate it with an example of how NOT to caption a photo, I came across one almost straightaway on the Times Online site. O tempora!

Categories: Asides

May 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m gradually transferring pages and posts from my old blog on Blogger over to my new home here. The latest is the page on Dreadful Americanisms, which you can find by clicking on the link under the Samuel Johnson banner above.

Categories: Asides

It’s the Sun wot didn’t quite win it (and nor did the Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph…)

May 7, 2010 1 comment
Election front of The Sun and The Mirror

The red-tops were obsessed with blue

As I write, there’s only a handful of seats still to come in and we have a hung Parliament.

However murky the outcome politically, the result of Election 2010 (Part I) is to well and truly nail the myth that the media – and in particular the press – have any influence on the outcome of elections whatsoever. Read more…

Categories: Election 2010